The Great British Bake Off • Sandi Toksvig • Noel Fielding • Prue Leith
Sandi Toksvig is to leave the hit Channel 4 series The Great British Bake Off. The 61-year-old broadcaster is exiting the show after three years to “focus on other work projects”, according to the channel. Toksvig – who joined Bake Off in 2017 alongside comic Noel Fielding – also presents the BBC quiz show QI, and previously hosted The News Quiz on Radio 4. She has also written novels and plays, founded the Women’s Equality Party in 2015, and will host a forthcoming series for Channel 4, The Write Offs, in which illiterate adults take part in a spelling bee.
In a statement, Danish-born Toksvig celebrated her time on the baking show, joking that it was all-consuming “as my waistline will testify”. She described working with Fielding and judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood as “one of the great pleasures of my life … these are friendships which I know will continue beyond the confines of television” and added that Bake Off was a “wonderful programme which has already proved it can happily withstand a change of hosting personnel. The reason for that, of course, is that the true stars of the show are the bakers themselves.”
Bake Off was hosted by comedians Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins between 2010 and 2016, when it was broadcast on the BBC, first on BBC Two and later, as its popularity surged, on BBC One. It moved to Channel 4 in a £75m deal, after the BBC refused to pay programme-makers Love Productions £25m a year to keep the show.
Toksvig had been a “huge part of why Bake Off’s move to Channel 4 has been such a success”, says Channel 4’s director of programmes, Ian Katz. “We will miss her warmth and wit, not to mention her endless willingness to be the butt of jokes about being the least tall person in the Bake Off tent.” Katz said Toksvig would continue to have an “important presence on the channel with new shows in development – none of which involve cake”.
Fielding paid tribute to his colleague in a post on Instagram: “Good double acts are a rare and magical beast! I’m gonna miss Sandi comically and personally but i also know we were lucky to have her for 3 amazing years! Wish you all the best in your next adventures x x love Noel x.” He added on Twitter: “I feel like Tom without Jerry! Mick without a Keef.”
Hollywood said in a statement that it has “been great fun working with Sandi”, adding: “We will miss her but I hope that she will get time to visit us in the tent when we film later this year. She will always be part of the Bake Off family.” In a separate post, Leith described her as “a brilliant host and enormous fun”.
Bake Off remains one of Channel 4’s most popular shows despite viewing figures falling markedly since it first aired 10 years ago. 6.9 million viewers tuned in to the last series finale, compared to 7.3 million for the first series on Channel 4 and 14.5 million for the 2015 BBC series, which was won by breakout star Nadiya Hussain. Having built a reputation as a gentle slice of escapism, the show came under widespread scrutiny in its most recent series, with increasingly difficult challenges – including the “impossible” Maids of Honour – and harsh comments from Leith and Hollywood towards contestants. It was eventually won by 36-year-old health advisor David Atherton, who finished ahead of favourites Alice Fevronia and Steph Blackwell.
Toksvig will return to the tent for a final time in the celebrity Stand Up to Cancer series, which features contestants including Louis Theroux and Carol Vorderman. While Toksvig’s replacement is yet to be announced, bookmakers’ favourites are said to include Hussain – who has hosted BBC series including Nadiya’s British Food Adventure since winning the show – Jo Brand, who presents companion show An Extra Slice, and Rylan Clark-Neal, who is set to helm the BBC’s forthcoming revival of Ready Steady Cook.
source : the guardian